La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) is an opera by Gioacchino Rossini. It was written in 1817, and its overture, which is particularly well-known, is notable for its use of snare drums. Although the opera is not one of Rossini's best known, it still contains some of the great composer's most spectacular music. The soprano aria "Di piacer mi balza cor" and the tenor aria "Vieni fra queste braccia" (it's very interesting that the cabaletta for the duet between Arturo and Elvira from Bellini's I Puritani starts with the exact same words) are two examples of Rossini's brilliant vocal writing. The opera is also noted for the way it starts in a light style, getting more serious towards the Act II Finale. The most famous aria in the opera is probably Ninetta's prayer "Deh, tu reggi in tal momento".
Ninetta hopes to marry Giannetto, returning from the war. She tries to shelter her father Fernando Villabella, who has deserted from the army, and is troubled by the attentions of the mayor, Gottardo. A missing spoon and the evidence of Isacco, the pedlar, who has bought a piece of silver from Ninetta to raise money for her father, lead to her accusation and imprisonment. She is tried and found guilty, to be saved from death at the last minute by the discovery of the thief, the thieving magpie of the title.
Rossini is famous for his writing speed, and La gazza ladra is no different. It is reported that the producer had to lock Rossini in a room the day before the first performance in order to write the overture. Rossini then threw each sheet out of the window to his copyists, who wrote out the full orchestral parts. This overture, beginning and ending in E major, though passing through G major, makes a few appearances in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, and has also provided the background score for many television, radio commercials and was the introductory music used by Marillion for their live shows in the mid 1980s.
Use in Modern Culture
The Overture is often used in movies during times of mischief, including but not limited to: